By Linda Bentley | october 7, 2015

Town responds to George Ross’ complaint regarding Sonoran News

‘This unfortunately does not accurately reflect the decision by council made on June 1, 2015 with respect to the Sonoran News’
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CAVE CREEK – In early August, George Ross filed a 55-page complaint with the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, with a copy to Arizona Attorney General, claiming Cave Creek Town Council “have clearly violated Arizona State Statutes in voting unanimously to make the Sonoran News the official newspaper for Cave Creek official notices. The enclosed packet will, in detail, provide all the necessary information. Suffice it to say that our representatives violated their sworn oath of office and their fiduciary responsibilities to their citizens.”

George RossRoss goes on to state, “I broached this subject with Mr. Arch McGill and Ms. Kathryn Royer and they both highly recommended that I bring this to your attention.”

Ross’ included “Statement of Facts” is also signed by Pauline Smith, Katya Kincel, Gabe Royer, Raymond Jackson, Judy Lewis, Anna Marsolo and Dorothy Tucker.

Ross asserts, “The Sonoran News cannot be the official newspaper for Cave Creek; it does not meet the definition of a newspaper by Arizona State Statutes.”

Despite having explained on numerous occasions Sonoran News’ arrangement with the Gila Bend Sun, which does meet the statutory definition of newspaper and provides the affidavit of publication to the town, while Sonoran News reprints the legal advertising so that it reaches every mailing address in Cave Creek, Ross persists in his animosity toward both Sonoran News and the new council that unseated his favored members in a recall election.

Ross states three words can describe council’s actions: ignorant, stupidity and fraudulent, and states, “I believe that misappropriation of public funds is a ‘bridge too far.’”

The town received a letter dated Sept. 10, with a copy of Ross’ complaint from Deputy County Attorney Bruce Preston respectfully requesting the town provide a response within the next 60 days.

Preston stated, “Please understand that sending an inquiry letter like this one is part of a standard procedure in processing complaints of this nature. Please do not assume that this office has reached any conclusions at this time.

On Oct. 1, Town Attorney Bill Sims responded to Preston’s request.

Sims noted where the complaint alleges council “selected the Sonoran News as Cave Creek’s official newspaper for public notices” against the advice of the town attorney, and stated, “This unfortunately does not accurately reflect the decision by council made on June 1, 2015 with respect to the Sonoran News. The complaint fails to acknowledge that the council directed that the notices be placed in a qualifying newspaper, as well as the Sonoran News.”

Sims then explained the arrangement with the Gila Bend Sun, a process that has been in place and followed since it was upheld by Hearing Officer Richard W. Garnett III in 1997 through 2013, which was when Interim Town Manager Rodney Glassman pulled all town advertising from Sonoran News.

And where Ross’ complaint also alleged the town violated statute by not contracting with Sonoran News or Gila Bend Sun, Sims stated, “The annual contract for printing statute cited in the complaint, A.R.S. § 11-255, applies only to counties. There is no corollary statute in Title 9 to make it applicable to the town.”

Sims also points out there is no statute prohibiting a non-qualifying newspaper such as Sonoran News from meeting the requirements of statute by subcontracting the printing of its legal notices to a qualifying newspaper.

He stated, “Here, the town made the determination that choosing a paper that is distributed and readily accessible to every one of its citizens was a primary concern, and only the Sonoran News, with its Gila Bend Sun contract, could provide that service.”

Last, Sims addresses the complaint’s challenge to council’s decision based on difference in the cost per column inch between the Arizona Republic and Sonoran News.

Sims stated council carefully considered the cost differences by taking into consideration that Sonoran News is directly mailed to 4,900 mailing addresses within Cave Creek, while the Arizona Republic delivers to only 8 percent of the mailing addresses within the town.

He attached as an exhibit of the breakdown analysis provided to council of the costs per thousand of placing legal notices in Sonoran News as compared to the Arizona Republic and stated, “That figure demonstrated that the cost per column inch per thousand was actually less than the Arizona Republic’s cost per thousand.

Sims wrote, “After weighing their options, the council made a policy decision to post notices in the Sonoran News and the Gila Bend Sun to ensure that their legal notices were seen by the largest number of residents. Such a financial policy decision is best left to the sound discretion of the council.”

In conclusion, Sims stated, “The town therefore did not violate A.R.S. §§ 39-201, -204 and 11-255(C) by its direction to staff regarding publication of legal notices in the Sonoran News and in another newspaper pursuant to state statute.”

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